Almost all countries in Europe have very low rates of crime and that’s why it makes it one of the safest places to travel in the world. However, wherever there are humans, there is some crime. The main problem for tourists are pick pockets, especially in high tourists areas, or on busy buses and subways where there could be a lot of unsuspecting victims. Many work in groups so while one does something to distract you, another is pick pocketing your tote, purse or pocket. Be aware of individuals walking up to you asking for directions, information or to sign petitions. If they continue to pester you, walk away and keep your hand over your purse, bag or pocket securely. Some of them hand you a wrist band or other object than demand payment, hand it back and walk away, always saying no thank you.
Beggars and peddlers…As in the US there are the homeless and misfortune that beg for money but, most are not as aggressive as in the US. They usually do not verbally ask for money but, will have a hat or cup out to collect money in. Many will work the crowds and congested areas where there are a lot of tourists and commuters. There are also street peddlers selling souvenirs and gifts however, this is illegal in many cities. You will notice their goods are on blankets so when the police are visible they can easily grab all there goods in the blankets and quickly depart the area. This allows them to set up shop in a different local away form police.
Be aware of your surroundings and where you are…While in the big cities it is nice to get away from the big tourists areas to get a feel for the cities neighborhoods and people. Know where you are going to before you go and how you are getting there. Know which bus line or subway you are taking and have a map or smart device with you in case you get disoriented. Ask in advance from your concierge, guide or tourists office where some of the good neighborhoods are to visit and that they’er safe.
Fly under the radar…Try not to make yourself a tourist target by sticking out of the crowd. Acting or dressing like a typical tourists will only draw attention to yourself. Leave the white tennis shoes, “Don’t Mess with Texas” t-shirt and Yankees baseball cap at home. In Europe you are a foreigner, so don’t stick out in the crowd.
When Shopping…When buying items, it is best to keep your money folded backwards with small bills on the outside and larger on the inside and bring out your cash only when actually handing it over. Also, separate larger sums from smaller ones and keep the former hidden on your person.
Be polite…Don’t make loud rude comments about their customs and say “that’s not the way we do it”. Remember, you’re in their country and you should be there on their terms so think before you express an opinion about something. What seems odd to us, to them is perfectly normal. Sounds reasonable right? Do not argue over misunderstandings, some may be due to poor translating of the languages. Unfortunately, we see it happen on every trip, loud obnoxious Americans embarrassing themselves.
Public protests and events…European countries are open Democratic societies that allow freedom of the press and civil protest. In large cities you may experience public demonstrations. Do not get involve and participate in any demonstrations. Ask a police officer if there is way you can travel around the demonstration to avoid it. If you see any unlawful activity take place, leave the area immediately so you do not become confused with the perpetrators.
High Tourist Areas…These areas along with major metro, bus or train stations can be high targeted areas for pick pockets. Also in and around hotels whose have high occupancy of foreign travelers. Keep valuables hidden and secured on your person when in these areas.
If you’re on your best behavior you shouldn’t you run into any legal problems but, if something does happen, contact the nearest US Embassy listed on our emergency page.
Most Europeans like Americans and will welcome you warmly but, there are always some who hate Americans, for the right or wrong reasons.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program…
The US Department of State offers a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for free. It allows travelers abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Ranking the Safest Countries in World…
The Legatum Institute in London surveys countries and ranks them in several categories of importance with safety & security being one. Below are the world rankings on European nations. With Switzerland being rank the safest country in the world, most European nations rank high, The United States ranked 58th and South Sudan rank 169th and last in safety.
United Kingdom #16
Bosnia Herzegovina #51
North Macedonia #70
The countries of Andorra, Holy See (Vatican), Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Monaco & San Marino were not included in the survey.
Areas to Avoid..
When checking into your hotel ask the concierge or staff what if any areas of the city to avoid. Large cities in Europe do have areas where of crime and juvenile delinquency is present. Some countries have areas of inherit racism as well as organized crime and corruption.
Belarus…US relations with Belarus have been strained since 2008 when the US Ambassador was expelled leaving only a staff of 5 at the US embassy. There is little protection under the law for US travelers.
Russia…areas in the North Caucasus region are the most dangerous for travel. Russia overall is not welcoming to LGBT travelers.
Ukraine…Avoid traveling to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Russian separatist have taken control of these areas with the presence of Russian backed troops. Over the last several years, serious fighting has occured between them and the Ukrainian army. Use cash in most instances when making purchases. Use only bank ATM’s to withdraw cash.
US State Department Travel Warnings and Alerts…
Unfortunately we live in a world where conflict is real and sometimes dangerous. The US State Department monitors the activities and many countries and issues an alert or warning for traveling into that country. Alerts… are things such as elections, major labor strikes, etc. These may not be necessarily be dangerous to travelers but could cause difficulty and hamper a trips enjoyment. Warnings…could be political unrest, probability of terrorists attacks or even war. Under a warning Americans working or residing in these areas are recommended to leave so travel should be avoided at all costs The US State Department currently has travel warnings issued for the following countries.
|Country||Type||Date Issued||Areas Affected||Date Lifted|
|🇹🇷 Turkey||Warning||October 29, 2016||Throughout Turkey & Istanbul|
|🇺🇦 Ukraine||Warning||December 14, 2015||Crimea, Donetsk & Luhansk|
Remember, Americans need to avoid travel, especially leisure tourism and only visit the areas listed under the most dire circumstances.